MTC can block infrastructure sharing

22 October 2021 | Technology



South African telecommunications giant MTN will be allowed to use MTC’s infrastructure to set up its mobile network, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has ruled.

This will allow MTN to operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and eliminates the need for it to own its network.

CRAN has, however, also stated that MTC can appeal a decision to allow MTN to use its infrastructure for its services.

There is leeway for MTC to reject the decision made in line with the Communications Act, CRAN CEO Emilia Nghikembua said.

“MTC can apply for reconsideration of the decision in terms of Section 31 of the Communications Act,” she said.

MTC did not respond when asked whether it would indeed appeal the decision.

MTN had lodged a dispute with CRAN to use MTC’s infrastructure and avoid the need to construct its own, pitting the two mobile operators on a collision course.

MTC is capable

Ruling in MTN’s favour, Nghikembua said MTC had the capacity to carry its future competitor on its back.

“MTC has spare capacity to share capacity, which would not affect its quality of service detrimentally. The infrastructure sharing, in respect of this matter, will not result in an unreasonable burden on MTC,” she informed the mobile operators.

Questions to MTN managing director Elia Tsourous on its decision to operate as a MVNO also went unanswered.

Crux of the matter

In February 2020, MTN wrote to MTC requesting a sharing agreement to utilise MTC’s infrastructure for national roaming.

After not getting a satisfactory response, MTN lodged a complaint with CRAN, claiming MTC refused its request.

Through CRAN, MTN requested evidence that, indeed, MTC does not have capacity to share its infrastructure.

CRAN subsequently appointed Plum Consulting London to probe whether the capacity is available on MTC’s network in order to ascertain if the implementation of active infrastructure sharing through national roaming with MTN would place an unreasonable burden on MTC or affect its services detrimentally.

MTC, however, felt that should the sharing agreement be implemented, it would result in a reduction in quality of service to its customers via weakened signal quality and a loss of ability for either operator to optimise its service without impacting on the other’s service delivery.

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